Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Soap Making Class

I saw an introductory soap making class featured on Groupon and of coarse I had to purchase it. The class lasted about two and a half hours and was a unique experience. As a class (of four) we were given a history of soap and educated on each ingredient. There are different processes of making soap. But to me the most authentic is the cold process where the soap base is made from scratch.

The instructor walked us through each step and allowed us to choose the scents. We poured the soap mixture into a mold and allowed it to set for the remainder of the class. As we left we were instructed to let the soap sit in the mold for another twenty four hours. Even after the soap is removed from the mold, it can't be used for a couple weeks. I think this class sparked an interest in soap making for me. I purchased a starter kit that includes all the essentials to get started. I look forward to start my new habit and perhaps even have some giveaways in the future!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Black Bean Soup

This crockpot recipe turned out perfect and really quite simple. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

1 package dry black beans
6-8 cups chicken broth
1 tbs cumin
10 stalks of cilantro (Approx)
1 tbs salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
5 bacon slices

What you will need:
food processor or blender

Bring beans to a rolling boil in the broth for three minutes. Transfer mixture into crockpot and set to low. Add bacon, chopped onions, cumin, cilantro and salt. Allow beans to cook for about 8 hours. Remove the bacon before continuing.

Make sure the beans are tender then scoop beans into blender (what I used). Be sure there is more liquid than beans. The liquid should be about two inches or so above the beans. Blend until smooth and transfer into separate bowl. Make the mixture as thick or thin as you'd like. Keep in mind as the beans cool and set, the mixture thickens. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Something Old for Something New

Save the twist ties that come on bread packaging. It makes a useful space saver for lengthy cords.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes

This recipe is absolutely one of my favorite desserts. This recipe is moist and the banana and peanut butter are surprisingly not overpowering. The inspiration came from a fabulous muffin I tasted in Austin. I then embarked on a journey to get ideas to work into my own from the web. I started with a recipe I saw on kevinandamanda.com and made my changes. Like all my recipes, tweak the ingredients for your taste buds.

1 box of yellow cake mix
1 package of banana cream pudding
1 c. sour cream
1 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 large banana 

Frosting Ingredients:
1/2 c peanut butter
1 8oz package of softened cream cheese
1 cup powder sugar (add more or less to your taste)
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
1/4 c of milk (add more for creamier frosting)

Makes about 24 cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with your choice of cupcake wrappers. Mix ingredients for cupcakes with a mixer until smooth and fill each liner 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes for about ten to fifteen minutes or until tops are golden brown.

In a separate bowl combine frosting ingredients and stir until smooth and creamy. I like a creamier frosting so I tend to add a little more milk. I also don't use quite as much powdered sugar. Frost the cupcakes when they are cooled. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chicago Restaurant Week

Every year the city holds a week of restaurant deals called Restaurant Week. For an entire week, participating restaurants (usually the more pricey ones) host specials that allow Chicagoans a chance to try something new at a discounted price. My boyfriend and I decided to try out a place named Carnivale; eclectic in food, drinks and atmosphere.

I started the meal with the most amazing coconut mojito. It looked like coconut milk but tasted incredible. The mint leaves really compliment the tropical fruit. I would go back to this restaurant just for the drinks. During the course of the rest meal, I tried their fish tacos, black bean soup (AMAZING), and pork adobo. The pork dish was served with rice, plantain chutney and pea shoots.

Overall the meal was really good. I wasn't in love with the pork dish but it was a nice change to step our of my box and try something new. Although I must say my boyfriend loved the way the pork shoulder was cooked. Other than the drinks, I most enjoyed the circus color atmosphere. It was a fun place and a great location for drinks out or special occasion dinner.

I wish I had pictures. Here's one I found online.